Emotions were high at the national People’s Assembly march in Birmingham last Sunday. The march, entitled ‘Tories out, austerity has failed’ was planned to coincide with the Tory party annual conference. The same conference where people in suits stand on platforms to talk about vile ideas of how to ruin normal people’s lives, whilst they benefit from it. After years of austerity, with this government stealing form the poor to give to the rich, people from around the country had decided they have had enough and wanted to show their anger at the nasty party, in person.
The route was straight through the centre of Birmingham high street, which was great for increasing the profile of the march in the city. This was thought to be the biggest demonstration Birmingham has seen in 15 years. Unfortunately this year the march route was not near the actual conference itself. We can only speculate that the local council wanted to keep us away from the conference to protect the government. However this itself reflects badly on the tories. They don’t like criticism and they don’t like people pointing out where they are going wrong. What they want is to give minimal limelight to their critics and carry on as if there is no problem. They do this because, if people actually realise what was happening then the game would be up for them. People at the march knew that if the tories had exercised their influence to keep marchers away from the front door of their conference, then this meant they were afraid of our message. This led to people being even more enlivened and a lot of local interest from passers by. There were a number of excellent local groups who came out to protest too alongside us, which was great to see in a multicultural working class city. It’s clear that ordinary members of the general public are fed up with austerity.
Austerity is the lie that is always spun when the rich mess up and have to convince wider society that we all need to tighten our belts. The madness of it is that the rich are the ones who loosen their belts whilst we all tighten ours during a period of austerity. They say that we are all in it together, but if that was true then they would be cutting MP pay and executive pay and giving it to the staff who are desperately needed on the ground of our public services. This is why austerity is a lie. It’s designed to make us think that cutting back is a collective effort, whilst the rich are topping up their bank accounts at our expense. So what do we need to do? Reject it outright. It is not needed. If it was then the wealthiest would be first to pay their share. What we really need is proper bank regulation to stop this kind of crash happening again. We need tax to be collected properly from multi-national corporations, and when they threaten to move country and make people who work for them unemployed, tell them to leave, followed by swiftly investing public money to save the jobs of the people effected. Once we get all the tax that is owed to us, austerity will not be needed, as there will be no deficit! (The figure of deficit and the figure of uncollected tax are, not so spookily similar).
The People’s Assembly are a non-partisan group who wants to bring together all organisations, groups and parties who reject austerity. With recent fractious debates around Brexit and the internal strife of the Labour party, now appears to be a period of calm where if we coordinate properly we really can take the fight to the tories. Regardless of political affiliation, it’s clear that all those on the left will benefit from a mass coordinated movement to push for this on all fronts.
Marches are good for morale and breaking the isolation which our society is great at manufacturing around those of us at the sharp end of society to stop us from having the confidence to stick up for ourselves. As fun as marches are, they should always be a starting point. The enthusiasm that is generated from them should always be harnessed properly, as if we don’t harness it then marching can become a flash in the pan. We cannot let that happen. We have a duty to all the people present at that march to do what we can in our spare time to take on austerity and its movers in our local region.
There were some excellent speakers at the end of the march, who spoke from the various disenfranchised groups across the country, whose voices all desperately needed to be heard by members of the general public. The day ended with an air of optimism that positive times are just around the corner. We need to put the effort in to push back on austerity and its movers before we can see our optimism realised in to a proper fair society. Today the tories have dropped their austerity ‘lines’, but be under no illusions, they will definitely still be charging on with their nasty policies which will continue to see people die in the name of their greed. They will just be doing it more covertly.
We need to turn the enthusiasm of the march into positive action. We need to talk to each other about the issues effecting us locally and get behind the causes effecting the majority of us to bring about real change. You can do this by engaging with the Merseyside People’s Assembly. Come to any public meetings we hold, volunteer for us by emailing us at [email protected] Get involved with local campaigns like Save Liverpool women’s hospital. Donate to your local food bank. Write to your MP or local councillor and let them know how austerity is effecting you and you’re family here https://www.writetothem.com/ With hope, determination and a sustained consistent effort to fight back this government, one day we will see a better day for us, our families and our children. If not us then who?
Personal thanks to the Regional Secretary of Unite the union for allocating some seats on their coach to the people of Merseyside, without which we would not have been able to attend the excellent march. Thanks also to all the volunteers and stewards on the day who had to deal with the honorable duty of looking after all people who were marching on the day.